Sunday, December 18, 2011

Through a Knitting Filter

You see a charm bracelet....



















I see stitch markers!
From The Adventures of Traveling Ann
A friend had a jewelry party.

You know like a Tupperware Party, but for jewelry.

I thought it would be a good opportunity to do some Christmas shopping. I wasn't going to get anything for myself.

But there were all these incentives, buy this get that half price.

And she had the big version of this bracelet as a sample, with the cute red heart charm.

I saw those lobster claw clips and it was all over.

What a convention way to keep stitch markers on hand. (pun acknowledged!)

The jewelry was just delivered on Friday and as you can see it has already been pressed into service on my Electric Bunny Sweater.

As you may or may not know, but could tell from the random pictures I've posted, I'm working this sweater top-down.

I had considered working the sleeves two at a time to keep the decreases the same, but that wasn't possible.

For various reasons, instead of using the ball in a cake, I've been using it off my swift. Doesn't make it terribly portable or flexible. I was worried that if I tried to work both sleeves that way I'd end up with a hopeless tangle.

The end result was I worked the first sleeve, clipped removable markers to the decreases to make them visible, then worked the second sleeve to match by counting rows.

Yesterday (a Saturday) Hubby and I had a "Pillars of the Earth" TV marathon. We have to clear out our DVR and had to watch something.

I knit practically the entire second sleeve while we were watching.

There is something to be said for plain stockinette stitch on US10 needles!

I just have to finish the cuff then work a collar of some sort and the sweater will be done.

Well, aside from grafting the underarms and weaving in the ends. I should have a finished sweater before Christmas!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Second Post Syndrome

Here it is Nov 2 and I'm already questioning this decision to try to do the blog everyday thing. Good thing I didn't officially register!

While I might have a blogging block, what I don't have is the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome.

Even if that second sock was resisting my attempts to knit it.

As you know, despite those Dissonance socks, I like my socks to match. I don't think it's asking too much.

So after I finished this first sock you see here I sat there, minding my own business, reeling out the yarn to find the same point in the colorway.

I passed through the speckled green bit.

I passed into the purple bit. There was a splice in the purple bit but I didn't think anything of it.

Then I started passing through a speckled bit again.

"Wait a minute," I thought, "that's not right." Of course I kept going and things just looked more wrong as I went along.

I went back along the yarn to the spliced part and started forward again. I finally realized that not only did a section get skipped but the sequence reversed.

Bah!

To confirm my suspicions I got out the ball winder and rewound the skein. Indeed it was reversed.

Oh well, at least yarn has two ends and you can usually work from either one, which I promptly did.

I'm 12 rows into the second sock and it looks like I did a pretty good job matching them up. In my book that makes all that winding and rewinding worth it.

The yarn is Indulgence 6 Ply Distrato. It is a 75% Extrafine Merino Wool, 25% Polyamide blend. I'm working it on a US 1.5 needle. It's a soft, smooth yarn. It seems a wee bit thicker than the sock yarns I usually use, but it's so pleasant and the colors are so lovely who am I to resist?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

So, November

What is it about November that attracts all these challenges?

You know what I'm talking about.

There is National Novel Writing Month. That so isn't going to happen around here.

There is National Knit a Sweater Month. That is more likely, however it's not going to happen this year since I'm not going to cast on a fresh sweater for it.

The only sweater action around here that I can guarantee will be resuming my Electric Bunny Sweater when my new yarn arrives.

Then today I heard about National Blog Post Month. I'm not sure whether I've heard about this before. I know there are challenges out there to blog every day, but I don't know if this is it.

However, since I'm been bemoaning for months the fact that I have to get back to blogging, maybe I'll actually take up this challenge.

Not officially though. It looks like there is some website you're supposed to register with, but it's probably not mandatory so I'm going to blow it off.

I've always ignored such challenges in the past since I used to blog consistently. Recently it's obvious I need outside motivation. 

From the very, very brief skim I gave that website, the goal is to blog every day as a way to improve your writing. I guess that means those wordless picture posts I've been doing when I'm lazy don't count. But then again, I've long known that my photography skills aren't good enough to pull off picture only posts.

On the other hand, if I keep babbling like this (as I tend to do) the challenge won't be sustainable.

Anyway....knitting!

Since hitting the wall on the Electric Bunny Sweater I've focused on some small projects I've been meaning to get off my plate.

Oh, don't worry, I haven't actually turned to any WIPs or UFOs.


Over the weekend I knit a pair of fingerless mitts using Mirasol Tuhu in the "Apple Green" Color. The pattern is the T'ara Mittens from Book #24-Tuhu.

This yarn is so dreamy. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it in my KFI sample box. It tanked my resolve not to fall into a stripy sweater trap again. On the other hand, I haven't cast on for said stripey sweater, so I guess my resolve is intact.

Although the other day I was wondering if a crocheted, stripey, top-down sweater would be practical and if I would have enough yarn to finish it.

Anyway. A few months ago, maybe even in the summer?, I'd told my walking buddy Judy that I'd make her a pair of fingerless mitts. She didn't ask. I volunteered after she admired a pair of mine. As you know, this is very unusual behavior for me. Even more unusual that I followed through. ha!

Well, with the pause in the EBS, but with the safety net of resuming it as soon as the new yarn arrived, I was free to finally whip out these mitts. I gave them to her yesterday and she professed much affection for them.

The mitts done I cast on for a hat using Mirasol Hancho. Again, lovely stuff. 100% hand-dyed Merino. Stunning colors. It's a one skein project so it will be interesting to see if I can finish it before the sweater yarn arrives.

Ok, that's enough for now. Don't want to blow all my topics at once and not have anything to talk about all month!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Electric Bunny Sweater Sleeve

Electric Bunny Sweater SleeveAlmost as soon as I started knitting the first sleeve the doubts began to creep in.

How brilliant was my brilliant plan actually?

As the sleeve progressed the panic took hold.

Was I really going to have enough yarn?

What if the first sleeve used all the rainbow yarn?

Or, worse, what if I was able to knit only half of the second sleeve?

The rest of my yarn is the solid color stuff in a different gauge. There would be no way to salvage the situation.

Since I'm getting a gauge of 3.5 sts per inch on US 10 needles the sleeve is flying along. Last night it looked like I had made enough progress to bother trying it on.

It already reached to my elbow. The ball was starting to hollow out. Things weren't looking good.

Today I took my nerve in hand and called Jamie.

Problem Solved

Happily, I did not have to resort to groveling.

I started by telling her I'd been to her booth the Sunday of Rhinebeck. That got a laugh. So I told her I was wearing an Adult Surprise Jacket and what yarn I bought. That narrowed things down for her and she was able to remember me.

I reminded her that despite her warnings I bought two different weight yarns because I was overcome by yarn fumes and sure I could make it work. But in the cold light of knitting I'd realized it wouldn't work, and could I exchange the yarns?

She said yes right away. phew! Yarn people are so awesome.

Then we had a fun conversation discussing my options for my new yarn. I'd thought it would be easiest to just get three new skeins of rainbow with white, but I did want something more mellow.

After tossing ideas around we settled on a more solid rainbow colorway. No white. She's going to vary the other colors so there is still some variety but it's a bit more subtle.

Or at least that is how I understood/remember it. She made her self good notes. I can't wait to see what she comes up with.

The she was like, oh I have other orders I'm working on I want to set your expectations for the turn around on this. Um, two weeks from now. I was like, seriously? Because I thought she was going to say late November or December.

We also agreed I should get a fourth skein of the new yarn she's making for me. It's a custom order in a colorway she hasn't done before so I might not be able to get more if I run out. It's easier for her to make it all at once so it matches. That was sort of my idea because it will give me more options for balancing the yarn.

The new plan is to rip out what I've done on the sleeve so far. Then work the sleeves and the body in the new yarn saving the rainbow and white yarn I already have for the cuffs and bottom ribbing.

Tomorrow I'll have to run to the post office and mail these solids back to her.

Now the question is what project shall I work on until my new yarn arrives?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Electric Bunny Sweater

Electric bunny sweater divided Ok, so I haven't blogged about our trip to Rhinebeck despite declaring that I would do so straight away.

I really need to get myself in order and start blogging more regularly. (Like I haven't said that before, and won't say it again.)

But then it occurred to me that I don't have to blog in order. I can blog whatever and whenever I want. Just like knitting. Unlike knitting, however, I still have the option of back-dating blog posts.

Anyway, let's get on with the actual knitting content, shall we?

So, last year toward the end of our Rhinebeck time mom and I came across a booth with angora yarn in bright happy colors that were still somehow buttery. Probably because of the halo from the angora.

There were lovely sweaters on display and they were bight and happy and soft...but it was the end of ur second day and I'd already bought a ton of yarn and we were tired and I didn't buy anything.

A few months ago, maybe halfway between last Rhinebeck and this year's Rhinebeck, I called mom and said, "Do you remember those angora sweaters? I think about them on a regular basis."

And mom said she did, too.

We agreed I'd have to get some of that yarn this year, which I did.

I tried on two sweaters. One was a little too big. The other was a little too small. From that she declared I'd need five skeins of yarn.

Since she didn't have five skeins of the rainbow yarn I decided I'd get two rainbow skeins, and one each of red, yellow, and blue, and make a striped sweater. She warned me they were slightly different weights, but they looked fine in the skein, and I had on my festival yarn goggles, so I figured I could make it work.

The alternative was to order the yarn and wait for her to mail it to me, which was in conflict with my desire to own the yarn immediately.

I would make it top down so I could target the rainbow yarn on the yoke.

Well, everything was going swimmingly. I used one skein of rainbow for the yoke and it was enough to divide for the sleeves and work a couple more rows.

It was time to bring in the solid colored yarns.

Wow. The texture and weight are a lot different in the knit fabric than they seemed in the skein.

I'm working the rainbow yarn on US 10 needles. To get a similar drape in the fabric I had to go up to US 11 needles for the solid colored yarn.

This made my stitch gauge go from 4 sts per inch to 3.5 sts per inch, which you might think isn't very much, but it made the sweater explode from 33" to 37". And it's flaring out a bit.

The situation threw a monkey wrench in my idea of alternating solid stripes with rainbow stripes. The difference in gauge would make the sweater ripple.

I debated calling her and asking if I could make an exchange. Before I did anything hasty I decided to sleep on it.

This morning I work up with the idea of making the sleeves entirely in rainbow yarn and restricting the solid colors to the body. My yarn would be distributed so that I should still have enough to complete the sweater, but I wouldn't have to worry about the difference in gauge.

At this time I've done the math to quickly decrease on the body after I switch to the solid red to get the measurement I want.

I'm going to go ahead and knit the sleeves first, then do the body.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sudden Progress

You can't really tell in this picture, since it's a dark and gloomy day here, but I've suddenly made a lot of progress on my Yellow Lace top.

I had put it aside because it wasn't good TV knitting since I had to pay attention to it because of the lace.

Well, it turns out I've more or less got the lace pattern memorized. I've had it memorized for a while now. You don't knit that much of a pattern without ingesting it eventually.

Because I've got it memorized I don't really need to look at the pattern any more, and really I only have to look at the knitting maybe for the decreases.

Let's see if I can explain what you are seeing in the picture.

First off, the back is done. Second, the left front is done and the shoulder is joined.

See? I told you I'd made progress.

The dark line is the scrap yarn I'd used as a holder when I divided for the front and back. The needle is on the stitches for the right front.

So I'd been plucking away at the back when I could. Then I suddenly realized I just had a few more pattern repeats to reached the desired length. Having finished the Uncooperative Green Striped Schleppy I was filled with the desire to finish other projects and started focusing on this top.

Then yesterday as soon as I finished the back I plunged into working on the left front. That was quick and easy because with the deep V of the neck shaping I was working on fewer and fewer stitches each row.

Of course, doing that keep me up later than I should have been. Oh, it was well past 11 o'clock. But I came down with a cold at the end of the week and had spent most of the day either sleeping or lounging on the couch knitting, so I wasn't sleepy until after 11 p.m. anyway.

I'll take a stab at getting the right front done tonight. At that point the sweater will be at least 50 percent complete, if not closer to 75 percent.

I'll do the sleeves two-at-a-time. I just hope they go quickly.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Viking Hood

See, I don't blog and you miss out on all kinds of good things.

One of these days I'm going to snap, write a bunch of blog posts, and back-date them. You'll never know what hit you.

Anyway, while I was ignoring you I knit this adorable hood!

I will be all set for the cold weather when it arrives. I will laugh at the wind!

You'll remember that back in June mom and I went to the Knitting Along the Viking Trail Exhibit when it was it was in Philadelphia.

I then went on a quest to acquire all three of Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Knits books, as well as The Small Thing Matter book, as those were the ones represented in the display.

One of my favorite items was the Skjalf Hood from The Second Viking Knits collection. The picture in the book doesn't do it much justice since it's focused on the sweater, and frankly my picture doesn't either, but trust me it's uber-cute in person.

I was dithering over what yarn to use to make it when a skein of Juniper Moon Farm Chadwick came into my possession. Actually, several skeins did. But it was the Clear Skies (#8) that caught my attention and made me think of the hood.

It was blue. The hood in the book was blue. It was a logical connection. (As an aside, the color #1-Indian Paintbrush is such an awesome shade of red that it fills my heart with greed and makes me want to do bad things to acquire more, but it didn't seem right for the hood.)

The main concern was that Chadwick is 202 yards, which is a little less than the 218 yards technically called for in the pattern. I was taking my life into my own hands and running the risk of running short of yarn.

My plan had been to finish the ribbing around the face in a different color, if need be, and maybe throw a few rows onto the neck ribbing to make it look coordinated. Happily that was not necessary and I think I know why.

Change it? Me?

Skjalf short rowsAs you would expect, I ended up making some modifications as I worked along.

First, I worked the neck ribbing for 3" not the recommended 4". I think I felt the 3" was long enough, but that might have been an early move to conserve yarn.

Then as I was working the main body of the hood I reached the recommended length on row 10 of the second pattern repeat, not row 16.

Fortunately,  or unfortunately, I was in the more or less plain spot between knots. I read the pattern and took a hard look at the cable chart and realized that I wasn't going to reach the knot again in the allotted space. Or if I did it would only be the first few rows.

After considering my options I skipped ahead to row 23 in the cable chart, which is where the knot starts again, and followed the pattern from there.

It's kind of easy to tell what I did since the ribbing connecting the first half knot to the full knot in the middle is considerably longer than the ribbing leading to the knot at the top of the head. By the time I got to that point I wasn't in the mood to rip back and try to balance it.

You, however, can perhaps plan ahead.

Of course, since I sort of shortened the hood, I guess, I ended up picking up fewer stitches around the face opening. But that's a minor change compared to moving the knots around!

Short Row This
The only other tricky part was the short row shaping for the crown of the hood.

Boy howdy, I don't know if the pattern is just vague or I'm dense, but it took me at least three tries to get it right.

Well, the first time it turned out that I'd worked too many decreases at the center back and didn't even have the correct number of stitches to short row. Also, the book doesn't say to wrap and turn, so I didn't and it just looked horrible. That got ripped back.

Then I tried to short stitches at both the center back and the front opening. That was just weird looking and obviously wrong, so that got ripped back.

Then, since I didn't understand what the pattern wanted I thought I'd just do it like a sock heel just over the stockinette stitches at the back. That pooched out unattractively, was obviously wrong, and got ripped back.

Then I went and read the section about short rows in Rhigetti's "Knitting In Plain English" and something finally clicked.

With the correct number of stitches, I worked to the center stitch, wrapped and turned, worked back across to the beginning of the row. And that's how it went. I only shorted on the stockinette stitch portion at the back of the hood, as directed, and worked the rest of the stitches in pattern. Once the stockinette section was eaten up, I worked back across the row, picking up the wraps, and worked out across the second half in pattern.

The process was repeated for the left side of the hood, only I had to work the short rows on the wrong side of the work. It is possible that the left side of the hood has one more row than the right side, but I was too happy to have it done to try to sort out a way to avoid that.

I did, as you might imagine, briefly consider trying to Kitchener the top shut, but in the end I just did a three needle bind of as prescribed in the pattern.

I am very pleased with it and am fighting a burning desire to make another one. In a different color. With a different cable.

But there are so many other projects to knit, I think one Viking Hood is enough for now.

It does, however, fill me with a desire to toss all my other WIPs and skip ahead to the yarn and hood pattern I bought back in June.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fully Cooperative

I am pleased to announce the Uncooperative Green Striped Schleppy Sweater is done!

Aside from weaving in ends, that is. Despite having knit in many ends as I went.

It always comes down to weaving in ends.

I used a sewn bind off on the collar. Of course as soon as that was done I had to try it on to ensure it fits.

Wouldn't that have sucked to to all that work and have it not fit?

I guess that is the benefit of a custom pattern, even if it was originally written for entirely different yarn.

Speaking of that, the sleeves are just a wee bit short in the cuff. I mean, a little, bitty, wee bit short that you'd probably never notice if you weren't wearing it.

Which you won't be, since it is mine.

I know just how that happened.

After I washed the original Schleppy Sweater for the first time it grew at least an inch longer. The second Schleppy Sweater I intended to make was also going to be out of Zara yarn, so I revised the pattern to account for the growth. Then I used that revised pattern for the Uncooperative sweater.

I can only hope that one of the yarns involved in this new sweater also decided to grow just a wee bit and then my problem will be solved.

Pattern Stats
Pattern: Schleppy Sweater by Traveling Ann Designs, i.e, my own personal pattern.
Needles: US 7
Yarn: from across a spectrum of companies. I'd have to check my Ravelry project page for the list. I can tell you I used almost all of each ball with little to no leftovers from each. Good thing I'm petite!

What I learned?

Um, stripes look nice, but I don't like working them. I'd rather have someone else figure out the color sequence and repeats and I don't like weaving in all the ends. Probably won't stop me from making more striped sweaters in the future.

Creating a sweater from single balls of yarn with no access to additional balls is just crazy and adds a new level of stress as you worry about running out. Much safer to ensure you have way more yardage than you'll need before casting on.

Also, make the stripes narrower so the various yarns spread further. Although I think the yoke ended up quite nice and is kind of attractive with the repetition of just the three yarns in contrast to the body.

Ok, I have to go weave in ends now. sigh.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

99% Cooperating

Are you seeing this?!

Ok, it's a bad picture, so probably not.

I'm on the neck ribbing!

15 rows of neck ribbing and the Uncooperative sweater is done! (again. Well, aside from weaving in the ends.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Neck shaping in the Uncooperative Sweater!

After ripping back the lovely yarn that was the wrong shade of green I've been plucking away at reknitting the yoke using what remained of three of the original yarns.

I decided to cut the dark green Snuggly in between the two Crofters so there would be some separation since they are so similar. Six rows of the dark green alternated with 10 rows each of the other two.

I'm very excited that I've made it to the neck shaping.

It looks like I won't run out of yarn and won't have to add any random yarns after all!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Socks, word.

I went to check the mail today and found a package from SoHo Publishing waiting for me.

"Hmm," I thought. "I haven't ordered anything from Vogue Knitting."

I wracked my brain on the way home trying to figure out what it could be, personal, business, a present.

Turns out it most closely fits in the "present" catagorey.

I follow Vogue Knitting on Facebook. What, don't we all?

A few months ago they put a call out on their wall for people to submit sock knitting tips for a special section they were working on for an upcoming issue. If your tip was selected you'd receive a copy of their book "Knitopedia: The Ultimate A to Z for Knitters."

Well, how cool was that?

Since I knit socks all the time, and have had my Rainbow Swirl and my Eyelet & Feather patterns published, I felt qualified to weight in.

I won't tell you what my tip was (that would be stealing the magazine's thunder), but I will give you a hint about the topic.

The tips are in a special advertising section that starts on page 59. I have the last word, which amuses me greatly.

Even more amusing, the tip right above mine is from someone I know!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go flip through my new book.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Uncooperative Sweater

Sweater test Why are you resisting my efforts to knit you?

The sooner I finish knitting you the sooner I get to wear you. And isn't getting worn the ultimate goal of any sweater?

First you wanted this entrelac top. We all know how well that was working out.

Despite everybody else loving it, when I returned to you after a little break all I could see were the holes. Lots of holes. And the next tier I started pooched out funny.

I finally followed my gut and ripped that all out. At the same time I was still worried about running out of yarn. Fortunately a new batch of sample yarn arrived from KFI and I was able to dig through for potential greens and blues to round you out.
Green striped bad
I settled on this delicious Ella Rae Lace Merino Worsted. It was so soft and lovely to knit with. It has a whopping 230 yards giving me confidence I would be able to finish the yoke without an issue.

We had a wonderful week together. I knit you happily, even ignoring when I skipped a raglan decrease and had to make it up on the next row.

We were making progress. You were going to be finished in time for the cool weather.

And all that time I turned a blind eye to the fact that the new green yarn wasn't the right shade of green. It's was too bright, we both knew it, and yet you lulled me into acceptance with your promises that since it was the yoke it would look ok.
That since it was variegated people wouldn't notice.

I knit all the way to the neck shaping, believing your lies, and that had to face the truth.

It looked terrible.

Hubby, who I can always trust to be honest and have my best interests at heart, said it was a lovely sweater except the top didn't match. Even the ladies at the Library Knitting group had to take a polite breath, then admit that it didn't look good.

Out it came.

Green Striped subsI had selected other options from the new yarn and left them laid out on the sweater for a while on the porch so I could get natural light and debate about them.

In the end I decided to try to see you through with what remains of the three yarns left from your original yarns. I'm going to keep the light blue Willow Tweed on hand just in case I need it to finish the collar.

And I have a feeling that might be the case. Maybe I should start mixing it in on the yoke so it won't look out of place.

But know this, uncooperative sweater, I will have my way in the end. Eventually you will be cast off and worn!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Roar!

I have a lot of stuff I need to scan for work.

Only I couldn't because the inside of the glass was dirty so all the images looked like crap.

Then I found these directions on the HP website for opening the bugger up to clean the glass.

Yeah!

Then I was thwarted because it calls for some special T10 screwdriver, which I didn't think I had. Not that it mattered because I couldn't get past the first step of removing the front plate of the control panel.

I was pretty ticked off about it last night.

Then today I ransacked the barn again and discovered a T10 bit in Hubby's big wrench and screwdriver case. There were also little bitty screwdrivers just the right size for jamming into front plate gaps.

Victory was mine!

Even more importantly, after cleaning the glass I was able to put it all back together and it seems operational.

I am 21st Century woman! Roar!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cheating

The industrial revolution has arrived!

I asked Hubby if the people opposed to the Industrial Revolution were called "frame breakers." I don't know where I got that from, which is why I asked.

He said they were called "Luddites," but that they went after the mechanized weaving looms.

So I should be safe.

Yarn Everywhere

I bought the knitting machine on Sunday.

And, contrary to the weaving loom I acquired at the beginning of the month, the knitting machine did come out of left field.

But it is a logical step.

You see, since I have the best job ever, I recently received three big boxes of sample yarns.

Once again, it's a lot of single balls. Which is to say if I have multiple balls of one type it won't be 10 balls of blue, it will be ten different colors.

So the options are just knitting and crocheting random swatch squares or trying to come up with striped projects.

I told myself that this time I won't fall into the striped project trap like I did last year.

Two Hands vs Two Tons of Yarn

Since I only have two hands and there are only 24 hours in the day all I would ever knit would be swatches.

As nice as all this yarn is that prospect is unacceptable. I am both a process AND project knitter.

How can I be both? Well, I like the finished project, but I also enjoy the knitting process that gets me there. Although I enjoy having a mindless stockinette stitch project to work on when I'm tired or watching good TV, I like to know there is a goal in sight other than keeping my hands busy.

Hence the knitting machine.

If my cunning plan works I'll be able to zip out squares, crochet off a few rows, then get back to my projects.

Stumbling Along

The first square I did on Sunday was an ordeal. But it was a fun ordeal since the machine was new and shiny.

Also, I had figured the first square would be a train wreck since I'd never used a knitting machine before.

I didn't watch the instructional DVD because the booklet had very nice clear pictures allowing me to just plunge in.

Monday morning I got up and zipped out another square of the same smooth, worsted weight yarn (in a different color) in about an hour. I was feeling pretty good about my plan.

Then Monday night I tried a bulky boucle yarn.

And I tried.

And I tried.

And then I tried another bulky singles sort of yarn.

And it was just as frustrating.

And I found it necessary to pack the machine back in it's box because I was so uptight I was either going to crack a tooth from clenching my jaw or throw the machine out the window.

This was disappointing because the bulky yarns are the ones I was really looking forward to doing on the machine. Turns out I don't like knitting with big needles. US7 or US8 is about as big as I generally go.

Then on Tuesday I reassembled it and tried another smooth worsted yarn and everything was sunshine and light again.

Today it is also playing nicely. The square on the machine in the picture is Louisa Harding Grace Silk and Wool. It knit up very easily. I'm back to thinking my plan might work.

I think I'll give each yarn a go and if it doesn't work in the first couple rows I won't fight it. I'll just redirect to hand-knitting the swatch. It won't be a big deal since there are other yarns I've already eliminated from machine possibility for being either too thin, too thick, or too novel.

One way or another I'll show all this yarn who's boss!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Done: Dissonance Socks

Such a mean name for such pretty socks.

It's not a judgement on the socks. It's a reflection of what was going on when I started them.

Well, it's a bit of a judgement on them, too.

I started these on our trip home from California. The day started with a delayed flight out of San Francisco. We weren't worried about it because our connecting flight had already been changed to a later departure and then delayed so we had time to make the connection.

But we ended up missing the connection anyway, being redirected through Midway, spent the night in the airport, and got home the following morning. Twenty-four hours after we'd first set off for home.

See? Conflict and discomfort were the rule of the day.

I got a lot of knitting done on the sock with the blue leg in those 24 hours.

I had debated making them punky distressed socks with random yarn overs and patches of ribbing, but I came to my sense before I implemented that plan.

Really, I like my socks to match. I would have tried to make the patterns match. That probably wouldn't have worked out and would if it had worked out it would have defeated the purpose of the "dissonance" name.

So I went straight stockinette. There was enough stress going on without getting freaky with my knitting.

Feeling Lightheaded
However, in honor of the whole dissonance thing, and contrary to me need to have matching socks, as soon as the first one finished I cast on for the second.

I went with the flow of the Noro Silk Garden Sock colors.

I did not reel out yarn trying to find the correct point in the color pattern for them to match.

This made me feel a little uncomfortable.

As you can see, until I got to the ankle of the second sock (the one with the red leg) there was really no relation between them color-wise at all.

In case you're wondering, yes, I did seriously consider starting the second sock over and making them match.

But I fought the urge. There was already a lot of knitting time invested in that sock and it would have been a shame to waste it.

In the end I persevered and finished them as is. They are still a bit jarring to look at, in my opinion.

But I guess that's the point.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Folly

We interrupt this blog for some breaking news.

That, my dears, is a loom.

A, uh, Harrisville Designs A6, 4 harness, 6 treadle loom, to be precise. Don't worry if not of that means anything to you, although I'm typing the words I don't understand them either.

Now you might be wondering what a nice knitter and crocheter like me is doing with a loom and I would responds, um, seize the day?

Left Field, Not the Bleacher
I can't say I've had a burning desire to learn how to weave, but it's been out there.

I passed on a couple opportunities to take a class when I was working at Knitting Central and I'm on the wait list for classes at The Elegant Ewe. So the interest has been there.

Then last Monday I was fooling around on Ravelry and saw down in the tools forum (which I never read) a post titled "Free to good home (in Maine)" and I thought, "I'm not in Maine, but I'm awfully close." And saw the information about the loom.

Well, it seized my imagination and I was not dissuaded by the fact that it was on the coast of Maine, which is a 5 hour drive from me.

I figured when Hubby got home he would talk sense into me. However, he didn't bat an eye but proceeded to ask practical questions like "Does it work?" and "Why is she giving it away?" He was also hopeful that they could meet us somewhere to shorten the trip. They couldn't, but I pointed out that it's an expensive piece of equipment that they were giving away for free, so that was a reasonable stance.

Road Trip!
With satisfactory answers received to all the questions we hopped in the car last Thursday afternoon and headed out. (The delay gave me a few days to start second guessing myself and worry about it not fitting in the SUV, but I persevered!)

Of course, we left later than we intended and the drive took longer than we expected, so we didn't get there until 7 pm.

But it was lovely countryside.

When we arrived we found a very nice couple, confirmed by them immediately asking if we needed to use the bathroom.

Can I pause here to tell you that she had a fabulous knitting room? Well, the whole house was nice, a mix of modern and comfortable. They live on a island off the coast of Maine and have grand views of the water. Well, they would have if it hadn't been foggy. Anyway, her knitting room was on the second floor, steps from the bedroom, and one entire wall was picture windows looking out over the fog-obscured water. She had a kitchen island type table stuffed with yarn and a comfy couch.

Really, it looked like a very pleasant place to plan and work on a project.

Human Fuel

The loom and accouterments fit in the SUV with room to spare.

Our plan had been to got back to Augusta for dinner, but we had to scrap that since we were behind schedule. They suggested we eat at the Whale's Rib Tavern and called and made us a reservation.

Since we were at just about the last seating, we got to sit in the owner's favorite table in the bar. This allowed Hubby to have a grand time discussing wine and beer with the owner and the bartender.

We also enjoyed a lovely meal. For appetizers Hubby had the pate and I had a cold asparagus salad. For entrees Hubby had the lamb and I had pan roasted chicken. Hubby also got a bottle of wine and said their wine list prices were very good.

By the time we finished eating it was kissing 10 pm and we had a five hour drive ahead of us. (We couldn't stay over because the pups were unattended. As it was we were pushing the limits of their ability to be alone.)

Getting to Know You
The drive home was, happily, uneventful. I did most of it. I suppose I was hyped up from excitement because I was very alert despite the late hour. Still, we didn't get home until 3 am!

This, of course, meant that we were rather useless on Friday. I managed to get a little work done. But really, I wanted to play with the loom.

She had given me the assembly instructions and I read through them touching all the various parts as I went along. I rehung the harnesses and retied the treadles so everything would hang straight.

Then we moved it into the front foyer, where it fits quite nicely. I'll have to pull it out when I want to use it, but that shouldn't be a problem.

She also gave me some learning to weave books and I got a couple books from the library. It's starting to make just a wee bit of sense, but I won't really know until I try.

Monday night I decided to plunge in and got out the warping board she gave me and wrapped some old Peaches and Cream yarn I have on it before bedtime.

That's as far as I've gotten so far. I actually had to do laundry last night and decided to spend my time between loads finishing the socks I started on the way home from California.

Hopefully this weekend will see some free time to play around some more.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Calif Trip: Yarns on First

Chasing Rainbow Dyeworks We took a trip to California from July 15 through July 25 to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.

There was also a party for my uncle & aunt's 40th wedding anniversary and we used that as the excuse for our trip.

The focus of our activities was wine tasting, which is Hubby's passion so I was his driver. Because of this we spent four days in Napa and three days in the Sonoma area.

I was having a little trouble getting to the yarn store because its hours coincided with the winery hours. Since we were wandering the countryside it wasn't like I could just drop in. (Ah, I was just on their website and see they now have later evening hours than when I was there.) By our third day I was starting to get a little stressed out about the situation. Hubby was buying souvenir wine; I wanted souvenir yarn to balance it.

Hubby reviewed the schedule for Tuesday morning and saw his first appointment was in town so it would be an easy matter for me to drop him off and scoot over to the store for a half hour or so.

Yarns on First
The store in Napa is Yarns on First and it is right down town, which made parking a little tricky.

Hubby's appointment was at 10 am, so I dropped him off, raced back to town, and bounded up to the store...only to see she didn't open for another 20 minutes.

Woe was mine, but she saw me outside the door and came over to tell me she wasn't open yet. Which, of course, was a major tactical error when dealing with a knitter who needs a yarn fix.

I looked as pathetic as possible and said in a small voice, "Oh, well, we're here on vacation and it's our last day in town. This is my only opportunity to stop by." And I turned to walk sadly away.

As you've already realized, she took pity on me and let me in, "as long as I didn't mind she hadn't vacuumed."

Well, as soon as the door opened I raced to the back corner of the store before she could change her mind. I did feel a little wicked. Having worked in a LYS myself I understand how important those first few minutes are for getting yourself organized before the store opens. I told her that as well.

I would also like to point out that in the brief time I was in the store two other people wandered in. So in the end it wasn't just me she opened for. :-)

Sock Yarn!
Jitterbug Magenta It is a nice store. Long and narrow with high ceilings, but well lit.

The stock was arranged by colors, which I've heard of but never seen in person. It looked very nice. But I still have to wonder how easy it is to browse. I mean, if you find a yarn you like and want to see all the color you have to run all over the store. Still, plenty of places do it that way so it must work.

Since I was working on a tight time frame there wasn't really time to browse. I had to be focused.

Although I always try to make a token purchase when I visit a LYS in this case I knew I definitely had to buy something since she opened early for me.

I was relieved to find that she had Collinette Jitterbug, which is one of my favorite sock yarns. Couldn't tell you why. I just love the stuff.

There were a couple colors available, but I snatched up with magenta one. It is much more of a neon hot pink than the picture indicates.

(There was also a skein in white, tan, and pale blue that was very nice, but I had to control myself. However I keep thinking about it...I wonder if it's still in the store....)

Anyway.

Local Yarn
Having secured at least one purchase I was able to calm down and ask if she had anything unique to the store or area. Yarn I can get at my LYS here in NH would hardly be adequate as a souvenir, right?

She pointed me to the Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks yarn you see at the top of the post. It is dyed in Willits, Calif, which sounded local enough to me.

Sadly, she didn't have any of their sock yarn in stock, which is always an easy purchse.

The labels on the two skeins I bought are a little incomplete, so I'm not really sure what I have here.

They say "Kid Merino. 180 yards. Juniper Berry." No gauge info or line name.

I'm thinking Juniper Berry is the color name. The yarn looks worsted weight, singles, just a wee bit thick and thin.

I was able to find the brand name on Ravelry, but nothing that really matched my yarn because none of them have the same yardage.

Oh well. Using it will be an adventure. I'll just swatch a little to get gauge and go from there. I bought the two skeins because I figured that would be enough to make a scarf, small shawl, or shrug like thing.

Whatever it ends up being it will remind me of our trip.

Monday, August 1, 2011

4:1

That is the ratio of knitting projects taken to knitting projects work on during our July trip to California.

I think it's fairly decent. Actually, it's more like 4:2 since I finished my active project and cast on a new one on the flight home.

That, of course, means I worked on half the projects I brought, which is pretty good, all things considered.

Some of you, however, might think I was being an under-achiever since I brought only four projects along on a 10-day vacation. Still, I knew it would be an active vacation, and I didn't want the stress of unworked projects weighing on my mind.

In the picture I am relaxing with my knitting at the William Hill Estate Winery. Hubby had a 10 am tasting appointment. They had lovely Adirondack chairs with lovely views out in the garden where he could do the tasting (as opposed to inside at the bar). This allowed me to easily sit and knit. While this was very relaxing, it meant we were there for at least an hour, if not more, which cut into our progress for the day. Regardless, Hubby joined their club, which indicates he likes what he tasted.

Sock Love
The project of choice was the Cotton Swirl Socks I cast on when Summer of Socks 2011 started. I hadn't been focusing on them as much as I should, it being the Summer of Socks and all, and the trip seemed like a good opportunity.

Socks are my favorite travel project for a number of reasons:
  • They are small and portable so they fit nicely in both checked and carry on luggage.
  • I often knit plain stockinette stitch socks so I don't have to worry about carrying a pattern or stopping and starting.
  • I usually have a SIP (sock-in-progress) so it is easy to grab and pack without needing to dig around for the pattern, notions, extra needles for swatching, etc.
  • One skein usually makes a pair, so I don't have to worry about bringing extra yarn or running out, etc.
There was (is?) a pattern for these socks. Namely Summer Spiral by Jersey Knitter. However, I had the PDF on my iPhone so I didn't have to worry about carrying it around. Also, the pattern was easy to memorize so I probably would have been ok going from memory.

Easy, Peasy
This is a nice pattern that is easy to memorize. She gives lots of notes about working the pattern along with a few different stitch pattern options.

As you can see, I opted for the mirrored spirals. I rebelled against the pattern and worked a Cotton swirl done sideprincess sole, which I prefer for cotton blend sock yarn.

I also changed the heel flap just a little. The pattern has you slip the first stitch and knit the last stitch of each row. It's been so long since I've worked a heel flap that way that I didn't work it very well. One edge was tighter than the other so it was lopsided. Really strange.

As I was gawking at that I realized I was working the flap over the wrong number of stitches. The combination of errors made it easy to rip the flap out and rework it on the correct number of stitches with a garter stitch edge.

Although the pattern is straight forward, clearly written, and easy to memorize, I would rate the actual pattern for an advanced beginner who is confident reading patterns.

The stitch pattern is just charted, not written out. Because of this the written part of the pattern is a little abbreviated in that it refers you directly to the chart for X number of repeats. As opposed to having the stitch pattern written out and then saying X number of repeats.

This is probably a common way to write patterns, just different from the way I do it, and maybe a style to which you are accustomed.

Anyway, it takes like 3 seconds to figure out what is going on then you'll be happily knitting. And, really, it's not like I found any mistakes or anything, so it's a pretty minor "issue."

Project Stats
Pattern: Summer Spirals by Jersey Knitter
Size: XS
Needles: US1.5 for ribbing. US1 for sock.
Yarn: Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Cotton Print.

Not so sure about how I feel about this yarn. It was soft and felt nice to knit with. However, it is made up of several disparate plies and I found it just a little bit splitty. Nothing major. I either caught it as it happened or found it on the next round and fixed it. But it happened enough for me to feel the need to mention it.

I wore the socks on the flight home and have not washed them yet, so I can't yet tell you how the yarn holds up.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Not a Yarn Receptacle

Remember how at the end of June I blogged almost every day and then I stopped again?

Well, the contrast reminded me that I really enjoy blogging and that I have to start making it more of a priority.

Starting next week.

In the mean time, a vaguely knitting related post.

I've been working from home for a year now. It's fitting into our lives nicely and looks like it will be continuing for a while, which is good.

Because of this we decided it was time to finally get me a new, better desk. We'd had the desk we brought up with us for 10 years. It was older than that as we'd inherited it from the previous tenant at our last boarding school.

As you can see, it is a student computer desk and very much inadequate for our needs. We knew we'd have to replace it, but with the move, and the school year, and getting accustomed to a new place, it wasn't a priority.

New and Improved
But now comfort will be mine!

I will no longer be a nomad in the apartment moving from the kitchen island, to the dining room table, to the couch seeking a comfortable place to work.

Of course we bought me a new chair along with the new desk. The old chair was also 10 years old and was frozen at the height Hubby needs so my feet dangled when I sat in it.

It was a three day ordeal for Hubby to assemble the desk and hutch. There was a bit of foul language involved and mutterings about "Why can't assembled furniture be purchased?"

Oh, but it was all worth it. I feel so official now. I have to finish moving in (he finished it just before our trip to California in mid-July), but I'm already enjoying having it.

Not a Yarn Receptacle
You can see that rule has already been broken. That's my souvenir yarn from California on the desk waiting to be documented and added to my hoard.

You can also see my crocheted shawl has taken up residence on the chair back.

Really, if you don't expect the objects in my life to get covered in yarn (and dog hair) then you don't know me very well.

Samson also likes the new desk as there is more room for him to stretch out. Although he's a little too comfortable in this picture—there is no room for the chair!

Back in 2008 Hubby gave me a nice, large, Coach purse for my birthday. At the time I told myself I wouldn't put knitting in it. That vow lasted until May 2008 when I found it necessary to put a sock-in-progress in it.

Then last summer when we were discussing buying me a laptop since I'd be working from home Hubby asked, "Are you going to fill it with knitting stuff?" And I said Of course I will, but it is my job so I kind of have to.

We did not discuss yarn in relation to the new desk but, boy howdy, don't those cupboards at the top of the hutch look perfect for yarn storage?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

App Review: Yarn U


Ya'll know I have an iPhone, right?

And once you get an iPhone you get iPhone apps. I mean, that's the whole point, right? Why have a such a fancy phone just to make phone calls.

On the other hand I have not gone app crazy. I have a few select ones to make my life easier. Mainly ones that have turned my phone into a glorified, electronic notepad.

But if you had ever seen my appalling handwriting you'd understand the necessity of that.

You would think that I'd also load up my phone with knitting and yarn related apps (goodness knows Hubby has loaded his with wine apps), but you'd be wrong.

I have a few basic row counter apps, but I haven't pulled down any of the paid versions of those apps that are supposed to track your projects.

You know the ones (if you have a smart phone) where you can enter the yarn, needles, pattern info, and take a picture. Not only do I feel they are redundant to Ravelry and my blog, but I find typing all that info on the wee keyboard on the iPhone annoying. (I would want a version that I could enter the info on the laptop and download it to the iPhone, but still don't know that I'd actually use one like that.)

Yarn U
Which brings us to the Yarn U app. The Yarn U app is not a project tracker. It is a repository of yarn information and reviews.

At this time I will, in accordance with FCC regulations, point out I was given a free review copy by virtue of being the KFI social media manager. Happily, there are a lot of KFI yarns listed.

Most of the other heavy hitters are represented as well: Knit Picks, Blue Sky Alpaca, Debbie Bliss, Louisa Harding, Quince and Co. Although there are many yarns from each, none have their complete lines listed (yet?).

The iTunes page (which is where I stole the screen shot from for the image on this post) says there are currently 170 yarns listed, and I imagine she's still adding more.

Yarn!
There are reviews of varying lengths and depths on each yarn listed. Some are compilations of reviews/comments found a Ravelry (and say so in the entry), while others seem like they might be based on the author's own experience with the yarn.

The reviews also include "ball band" information such as content, suggested gauge, and yardage.

There are links to online purchasing options and, in some cases, pattern books so you can see projects, or free online patterns. (The entry for Louisa Harding Kashmir Baby links to my Basic Ribbed Fingerless Mitts pattern. squeee!)

There are also occasional random links. For instance, I was looking at the entry for Debbie Bliss Amalfi. When I clicked the Amalfi link I was taken to the wikipedia page for the Italian Alamlfi Coast. Uh?

You can also "favorite" a yarn, email the entry to a friend, and leave a comment for other people to see. You can navigate to the comments from the specific entry, but all comments are also collected in one area.

Browsing is done from the alphabetical list on the front page, which can be sorted by brand name, weight, or fiber.

Pictures!
The other main section is what is commonly referred to as "yarn pr0n." A mass of pretty pictures of balls and hanks of yarn, swatches, and completed projects. Some of the images are official company pictures from the pattern books and some are from private knitters. They all have copyright info in the corner.

The pictures, although very pretty, are a little iffy on usability.

The official company images list the name of the pattern and book where it can be found.

The private user images rely on how completely they fill out their Flickr description. When you click on a pretty sweater or gloves you could find anything from all the info you need to just the yarn to nothing at all. (Which makes me feel bad about my own sparse Flickr entries.)

Of course, this is not really the app's fault. And after the first such encounter you know what to expect.

You can sort the pictures by brand and weight. You can swipe through them, or let the slide show play. There is also a cloud option with wee thumbnails you can navigate through.

One Complaint
I've been playing since yesterday and I only have one main beef, which might say more about me than the app.

Some of the yarn reviews have a "pro and con" section. This is a nice feature as it gives quick and pointed information.

But I noticed that a consistent con was that the yarn is "expensive." In some cases that was the only con listed.

It turns out I have luxury taste in yarn (which is not a surprise) because most of the yarns I like and have used are flagged as "expensive."

That seems an arbitrary adjective to apply to a yarn, especially since not all yarns have a cost measurement applied to them. Where did this "expensive" tag come from? Comments on Ravelry? The author's experience and research? Is the ratio of cost to yardage considered?

Seems to me that the word "expensive" is too open to interpretation to be useful. One person might think yarn that is $5 a ball is expensive, while someone else might go has high as $10 or $20 a ball before flinching. And would that same $5 yarn person spend gobs of money on shoes without a second thought?

I mean, don't get me wrong, I have my limits, but yarn is the luxury item I choose to spend my disposable income on. I'll gripe about spending $60 on a fill-up for the car, but won't blink at dropping $60 on enough yarn to make a project.

My point is we all have our own priorities and without knowing the authors I can't place much value on the word "expensive" and feel it might prevent some people from trying a new yarn because they mistakenly believe it's out of their price range.

Instead of "expensive" I think the app should have a dollar sign scale. You know, like on other review sites and in Zagats. I think dollar signs would be a little less subjective.

And, in case you're wondering, yes, I did submit these observations to the author.

Why?
Now that I've told you more than you could ever want to know about this app, you might still be wondering why one would want it.

Well, aside from the pretty pictures, it could come in handy when yarn shopping.

Think about it, you're in a new yarn store where you aren't familiar with the staff so they don't know you're tastes and you want support for their recommendations. They have yarn you've heard of but never used, or maybe that you've never encountered at all. You can whip out your iPhone and see the reviews in Yarn U. (I would however, suggest you not check while the staff member is standing in front of you, that would be rude.)

Or you're at your own LYS where they do know your tastes, but all the staff is busy helping other customers. A quick glance at the app can inform your discussion when someone is available to chat.

Now I read through the comments on this app in iTunes. Most of them were positive, but I noticed a theme in the critical ones that pops up on any new yarn related app. "I can just get that info on Ravelry."

There is some substance to that comment, but it depends on your pain points. Have you tried to surf Ravelry on an iPhone? I have. It's not so easy. Also, you have to dig for the reveiws/comments on Ravelry while in the app they are the key feature.

And, here's the kicker, if you don't have internet access you can't get to Ravelry off your iPhone. Or it might be a killer slow connection. The app stores all the info on your phone. You can't follow the links, but the main review and all the user comments are available. I know this for a fact because I put my phone in airplane mode and tested it.

So there you have it, a useful and pretty little app. It appears she is continuing to add yarns and make improvements based on user feedback, so it should just get better as it goes along.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tiers and Gnashing of Teeth

Sweater test See what I did there?

Each section of entrelac is a tier, but it sounds like tears?

Never mind. If you have to explain it, it isn't funny.

Anyway. I haven't actually cried, but I have been frustrated and annoyed.

After finishing the base row I was flummoxed on how to proceed for the first oblong row. The magazine just blithely says to knit the first oblong row and decrease one stitch in each oblong. Well, I had a devil of a time figuring out which direction to go.

I finally pushed the stitched for the last base triangle down the left hand needle and crawled down its back for the first oblong. The first oblong was thus connected to the first base triangle worked. Not really sure at this point whether that means I reversed directions.

I do remember that it took me a couple tries to figure out. And, in case you're wondering, entrelac is not easy to pick out.

Six of 19
The next problem is that entrelac is tedious to work.

It's repetitious—pick up the stitches. Back and forth, back and forth. Pick up stitches, back and forth, back and forth.

But at the same time it enough attention that you can't knit on auto-pilot. Because you have to pick up and purl two together and repeat.

After two hours of knitting yesterday I manged to work six oblongs. I surveyed the remaining expanse of sweater and was filled with dread. Thirteen more oblongs on this row. Three more rounds of oblongs and then a round of triangles.

It's going to take forever.

And my hands were a little cramped.

Rapidly Loosing Interest
This all caused me to look critically at the sweater as I decided whether I wanted to forge ahead.
Entrelac yoke I decided that my technique wasn't good and there were sloppy, gappy parts where I didn't pick up stitches well. I thought it was blousing out where the entrelac started, but to be fair it didn't have the weight of the sweater or being on my arm to help it out.

I told myself that frogging back to the top of the green section wouldn't be so bad, despite all the work I'd already put in.

After all, knitting is supposed to be fun. If I wasn't having fun what was the point.

I discussed the matter with my walking buddy, Judy. Turns out she used to knit and crochet when she was younger. (I don't think she does anymore.) She in the "you come so far" camp, but agreed that if it was pissing me off I shouldn't carry on.

I decided to put it on scrap yarn to get a better look at it before doing anything rash.

Into Rotation
Of course I decided to run that test when I was at the library knitting group. I was fairly sure they'd all tell me it looked like hell and I should take it out.

You are not surprised to hear they didn't.

Noooo, they all said it looked awesome. However, none of them wanted to take over for me.

There was one voice of doubt at first about how there is a lot going on in the sweater anyway that it didn't need the entrelac, but once I pulled it on everyone loved it.

I explained how tedious it was to work. I pointed out the sloppy bits. I said I might run out of yarn.

They would not be dissuaded. They pointed out how far I'd come and how much it would suck to rip back. They pointed out that each round would go faster because of the ever decreasing stitch count.

Add to all this the fact that I made the tactical error of only bringing the sweater with me. I meant to grab my Cotton Spiral socks but forgot. So the whole time I was whining about the sweater I was also knitting on it.

I'd like to point out that for the hour or so I was there I only managed to work three oblongs.

Lame!

Anyway. The consensus was that instead of focusing on the sweater I should put it into rotation. I should just have the goal of working two or three oblongs every day and eventually it will be done.

Really, it's the first day of July. It's not like I need to wear the sweater tomorrow. Plugging away at it might be the best solution.

It had better be worth it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Whose brilliant idea....

was this entrelac yoke nonsense anyway?

What a pain in the patootie to work.

Nineteen little eight stitch triangles. Back and forth and back and forth.

Ok, that was an exaggeration. I'm knitting backwards instead of turning and purling. Turns out it's a useful skill to have, you should learn it.

Not that it makes things easier. I'm totally taking a break because my fingers were cramping a little.

Also, don't try to multi-task while you're working entrelac. And by "multi-task" I mean watching something on TV that you actually want to see.

I finished off this first round while "watching" Shrek Forever After. Yeah, almost restarted it because I didn't really feel like I saw it.

No Turning Back

On the other hand, I feel like I've come to far to change my mind now.

I thought the 10 rows of decreasing (every other row) at the start was going to kill me, but this foundation row was a killer.

Still, it would be a shame to waste all of my hard work so far by frogging it and doing a normal raglan yoke.

I'm going to move forward with the faith that it's going to look awesome and be worth the extra effort.

However it does make me wonder about the insane people who knit entire sweaters in entrelac.

Entire Sweaters. shudder

Yarn Worries

Of course it will only look awesome if I actually manage to finish it. If I run out of yarn it's going to look pretty sucky.

Does entrelac take more yarn than stockinette? It must, right? I mean, it's a stitch pattern and stitch patterns always take more yarn.

Sigh.

Well, I have another, different, blue skein on tap for when this one runs out. Then there are some green yarns left to fall back on.

But what if I run out in an akward place? What if I don't even make it through the first oblong row?

Man, I should have worked those decrease rounds in green yarn and saved the blue stuff for the real entrelac.

Wish I'd thought of that two days ago.

Ok, time to put the kettle on and start picking up stitches. There are oblongs to knit!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Green Schleppy: Join Sleeves to Body

Green Schleppy joinedThe Green Striped Schleppy Sweater is back in play.

Have I mentioned the Green Schleppy to you? Oh, once, back in April to complain about the sleeves.

I started this sweater during my single ball, striped project, hoard wrangling phase several months ago. Specifically February.

I'm following the pattern for the Schleppy Sweater I designed for myself last year.

Wow, was that already a year ago?

Anyway.

The idea was to use up many single balls of green yarn I have. The stripes on the body are each 15 rows. The mess up on the sleeves came because I didn't account for the fact that the sleeves were going to have more rows than the body and didn't plan to make the sleeves stripes either narrower or wider to account for that fact.

Nope, the sleeve stripes are each 15 rows as well.

This led to me working through the stripe sequence and coming up short on length. After pouting over it for a bit I decided to restart the sequence and also accelerate it to get the top of the sleeves on the same yarn as the top of the body when I joined them.

I think it will be fine.

Entrelac. Are You Insane?
Since I knew from the cast on that I probably wouldn't actually have enough of the green yarns to finish the sweater I also selected two blue yarns for the yoke.

I figure it's the yoke, it can break from the rest of the sweater.

Then in March I came across Meg Swansen's article in the Holiday 2010 issue of Vogue Knitting about working an entrelac yoke.

This seized my imagination. I was already working the yoke in a different color. Making it in entrelac would just make the color change appear justified.

I looked up her other articles in the series in case they had helpful information.

I tracked down my Spring 2007 issue of Interweave Knits and taught myself entrelac using the tutorial.

I did some math to prepare for the entrelac even though I was still working on the sleeves.

Knitter's Block
And then the sweater stalled.

I had too many WIPs and this one was tossed aside in an attempt to pair down what I was working on. After all, summer was coming, I wouldn't need a long sleeved, wool blend sweater for a few months.

I know I function better with just one project at a time. Ok, maybe two. I can see progress. I don't have decided what to work on. I just pick one up and go. Still I can't stop myself from casting on multiple projects. Especially when I get mad at an uncooperative striping sequence.

Ironically, my abundance of WIPs was a contributing factor in me getting this sweater out again.

The thought of my multiple WIPs overwhelemed me and I decided that I just needed to finish something. The Green Schleppy seemed closest to completion as well as easiest since it is mostly stockinette stitch. (At least until I get to the entrelac part.)

Another inspiration was the copy of Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard I picked up on Saturday.

It's an interesting book. The patterns are nice, but really I'm after the instructions about knitting top down sweaters in the back of the book. I intend to apply the knowledge to all those lovely skeins of sweater quantity yarn I've bought at fiber festivals lately that are destined to be other Schleppy Sweaters.

Also, the Green Schleppy was sucking up a large number of needle resources. The body was on a long Denise cable. The sleeves were being worked two-at-a-time in the round so they were taking up a set of DPNs as well as a long cable and set of Denise tips. Not to mention numerous stitch markers.

Heading for Disaster?
I don't know if it was the idea that I can't start a new sweater until I finish an active sweater or the desire to be knitting one of my own designs, or a need for US6 needles, but I ran and got the Green Schleppy out.

Having joined the sleeves to the body last night I've freed up all those needle resources and reduced it to a long cable and needle tips. I've also freed up the knitter's block and feel like I have good momentum to finish it.

Now I'm working through the initial raglan decreases and heading toward the entrelac. I've already realized my initial math was based on incorrect numbers. I'm smart enough to wait until I finish these first 5 decrease rounds before I start crunching numbers again.

And then the fun really starts.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hoard Enhancement

Elsebeth Lavold Angora Hubby and I had a busy day on Saturday.

We had to take the car for an oil change. Since the dealership is in the southern part of the state near Hubby's new Karate Dojo he decided we should get an early start so he could go to the Saturday morning class.

Then we developed a laundry list of things to get at the mall since we'd been in civilization.

But I'm not here to talk about boring mall shopping. I'm here to talk about yarn!

After I dropped Hubby off I scooted over to The Yarn and Fiber Company over in Derry. This store was recommended to me by Pam's sister Nancy. I'd seen their booth at the NH fiber festivals I've attended but hadn't been to the store yet.

It's a big place, with big windows, so it's well lit and has aisles you can actually walk down. They also have a wide variety of yarns. I could hear laughter and chatting from a class, which I discovered at a big table in one corner. Another corner had big couches and chairs. Probably where the knitting group meets.

I didn't go with the intention of buying anything, I was just looking to kill an hour while waiting for Hubby. (True, I could have sat in the dojo lobby watching the training and knitting, but why do that when there is a yarn store within striking distance)

Then I stumbled on the book section. I was reminded of my quest for the Lucy Neatby finishing book (no dice) and the other Elsebeth Lavold viking knits books (also no).

They did, however, have a number of other Lavold books, which I flipped through. This led me to decide that although I like all her designs it's really her winter patterns that make my heart pound.Worf pattern by Elsebeth Lavold

This led me to flip through The Embraceable You Collection a couple times.

The pattern that forced my hand was Worf. How can I resist a pattern named after an awesome Star Trek character? It is described as a sweater with detached sleeves, but it looks like a tunic vest with matching armwarmers to me. Although the sweater is neat, it's not really my style. But I'm all about the armwarmers.

Also, as you may recall, I'm currently obsessed with her hoods after seeing them at the museum. The ones at the museum just had ribbed necks. The Niella hood in the book flairs out to a cowl reminicent of my beloved Solo Cropped Poncho.

Although the armwarmers and the hood aren't a pair, they have the same feel, so I figure I can totally wear them as a set.

So I decided to get the book and take my chances on finding yarn that would work since I knew it was an older book. Until I came around a corner and found a display of EL's Designer Choice Angora right there at my eye level.

Elsebeth Lavold hood patternHow very convenient to find the actual yarn for the patterns I as about to buy! No worries about yardage, or drape, or texture substitutions. Obviously I had to get enough for the two patterns I wanted to make. Especially since I knew the yarn was discountined. I might not have the opportunity again, at least not as easily.

The color selection was, admittidely, limited, which made it an easy decision to go with my tried and true blue. Logically, I got the same color for both projects since I'm going to call them a set.

The Worf pattern calls for 2 skeins for the sleeves. I wonder if these means each one will take one skein. I haven't read the hood pattern through, but suspect it starts at the cowl. Still, I'm thinking I'll make Worf first so I can put any extra yarn toward making the cowl longer.

Of course another option would be to make the hood first and use any spare yarn to make the armwarmers longer.

But, who am I kidding, it's going to be a while before I actually make either of these projects.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer of Socks: It's a Start

Cotton spiral start Or a cuff, as the case maybe.

In either event, I finally started my first Summer of Socks sock. This morning.

Last night I ended up fooling around online, then when I settled down to knit I realized I had to clean the kitchen. Of course doing that made me rather pissy. Then when I was able to sit down and relax again the closest project was the Yellow Lace Top.

Well, I did manage to cast on about 6 sts last night, but they weren't going well.

I started with the outside tail of the Panda Cotton as the inside tail seemed fairly buried.

It wasn't pretty. Or, more accuratly, I stopped before it got ugly.

As I worked my long-tail cast on the yarn started untwisting on one side of the needle and kinking on the other. Uh-oh.

This morning I jammed the guts out of the ball to find the inside tail and the cast on went much more smoothly.

You can really tell in that bad picture I took (it's a very gloomy day here in NH) but I'm using my new Darn Pretty Needles that I bought at the NH Sheep & Wool Festival.

They are presenting another hiccup. First, and some people may like this, the points are really, really pointy/sharp.

Some people really like pointy points, but I'm not one of them. I can see the advantage for working pattern stitches that pull the yarn tight, but they don't work well with my knitting style. I tend to push the tip of the left needle with my right forefinger and pointy needles lead to a sore finger.

Another issue that they are size US1.5 and I think they are a little big for this yarn. The ribbing is just a wee bit soft, which is fine for the ribbing, but I think won't translate well to the body of the sock.

Now that I'm done the ribbing I'm going to transition over to my faithful Brittany Birch US1 DPNs, which should solve both the gauge and painful finger issues.

Well, I think that is all I have to report at the moment.

Onward to the leg and the pattern stitch!